Selling a home can be an emotional, and sometimes overwhelming, experience for many people. It is a complex, multistep process that involves a lot of significant decision-making. This is why hiring the right real estate agent is one of the first and most important decisions most sellers make.
According to the National Association of Realtors, a typical real estate agent sells 12 homes annually. Not many of us as consumers sell a home that many times in a lifetime. Trying to navigate a complicated and competitive market without a seasoned and knowledgeable agent can cost you time and, more importantly, money. On the other hand, a top-notch broker will be your trusted advocate and guide.
So how do you find that “right” broker who will be fully engaged in the process from start to finish? Here are six key ways to vet potential agents in order to avoid seller’s remorse.
1. Experience matters: You need someone with a deep knowledge of the area where you live. An experienced agent should be able to speak with authority about sales trends in the local market, as well as those in your neighborhood. Ideally, they will have sold homes there in the past. As a rule, it’s best to hire someone who is a full-time agent because they will have conducted more transactions than a part-timer.
2. Do your homework: Buying or selling a home is, for most of us, the largest transaction we’ll make in our life. Start your selection process by asking close friends for agent recommendations. They won’t want to steer you the wrong way, and will most likely offer their honest opinions.
3. Face-to-face interviews: Never hire an agent before meeting them in person. You are going to be relying on the broker throughout the process of selling your home; you need to have a high level of confidence in this person. Ask about their skills and qualifications, and how many homes they’ve sold in the last year. You also should request a list of recent clients that includes contact information. When you speak with a past client, ask them what the asking price on their home was and then what it sold for. With a prospective agent, be very clear about your expectations. If you want someone who’s always available to talk with you — even after normal business hours — let them know that it’s a requirement.
4. Interpersonal skills: Focusing on an agent’s track record and sales history is obviously an important consideration, but it’s not the only one. During the interviewing process, there are other factors to consider. Does the candidate seem trustworthy? Do you like their personality? Are they a good listener? If the prospective agent talks the entire time during the initial meeting, you should look elsewhere. You want someone with a positive attitude and a small ego.
5. Marketing Strategy: Before you sign on the dotted line with a broker, request a customized marketing plan. Among the questions that you need answered are: How would the agent price the home? How did they arrive at that number? Are their similar properties in your area currently on the market? If the agent hasn’t prepared a thorough analysis of comparable home sales in your neighborhood recently, that’s a problem. You should continue your search.
6. To-Do List: While a detailed marketing presentation is nice, it’s important to get an agent’s opinion on what needs to be done to the home before it goes on the market. Seasoned and ethical brokers will provide specific recommendations, as well as the reasoning behind them, even at the risk of losing the listing. The thought of spending money on repairs or a minor renovations may be difficult to swallow, but the investment is well worth it if you get top dollar for your home. First impressions matter, especially for prospective buyers.
When selling your home, you want to have an agent who is by your side, before, during and after the sale. It has to be someone you trust explicitly, who will doggedly negotiate and advocate for you and who always has your best interests at heart.